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Ukrainian Policeman Arrested after Demanding Bitcoin Bribe

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An officer in a cyber-division of the police force in Zhytomyr, Northern Ukraine, has been placed under arrest by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) after allegedly demanding a bribe of USD 5,000 in bitcoin. The policeman was investigating a resident of the city who was being investigated for distributing pornography online.

Source: iStock/Eduard Skorov

The officer allegedly promised the resident that he would make the case disappear by filing a favorable report, per news outlet UNIAN.

The SBU stated that the policeman initially asked the resident to send a cryptocurrency payment to his wallet – before changing his mind and instead agreeing to receive several fiat transfers in Ukrainian hryvnia.

The officer was arrested by the SBU upon the completion of the first fiat transfer – worth some USD 980.

Ukrainian prosecutors have filed charges against the officer, and the probe could be further extended to cover his colleagues from the cyber-police unit who have also been questioned by the SBU.

A recent report published on Brookings claimed that cryptocurrency adoption and blockchain technology-powered solutions could trace and deter “bribes in the public sector, which amount to roughly between USD 1.5 trillion and USD 2 trillion per year (2% of global GDP).”

Cryptocurrencies are gaining popularity fast in Ukraine, where the government has been pursuing a pro-digitization and pro-blockchain set of policies. Last month, the country’s digitization ministry stated that it would not seek to regulate the crypto mining sector.

However, the government remains wary of crypto’s potential use in money laundering schemes. Last month, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s Finance Minister, outlined plans to monitor cryptocurrency transactions in the country and identify the origin of account holders’ crypto holdings.

Across the border in Russia last year, the internal investigations unit of the Federal Security Bureau detained two central office employees including a senior investigator for allegedly demanding a bribe of around USD 100,000 in bitcoin from the family of the notable political advisor, per media outlet Coin Spot.